Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Its Relationship to Western Medicine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


CAM is an acronym combining two terms, “complementary medicine” and “alternative medicine,” both of which are recent. The definitions of CAM point out the diversity of phenomena behind the concept and list therapies currently belonging to the CAM field. A universal definition that would provide a demarcation line between CAM and the dominant system does not exist, and CAM is best understood as a residual category, defined by its exclusion from “official” or “medical school” medicine. Some CAM treatments are fundamentally incompatible with science, but some treatments, currently belonging to the CAM domain, will, sooner or later, be included in mainstream medicine, if their effectiveness can be demonstrated. CAM as a concept may be useful in describing a phenomenon from a sociological or political point of view, but from the scientific perspective there is only one medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Philosophy of Medicine
EditorsThomas Schramme, Steven Edwards
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Science+Business Media
Publication date3 Jan 2017
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-8687-4, 978-94-017-8689-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-017-8688-1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2017
MoE publication typeB2 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Complementary Medicine
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Demarcation Line
  • Dominant System

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